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    Grace period for residents living illegally in Qatar starts today

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    Photo for illustrative purposes only.
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    Starting today and for the next three months, undocumented residents who wish to leave Qatar without legal consequences now have a chance to do so.

    However, certain documents will be needed to make the exit run smoothly, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) said yesterday.

    In a statement, the MOI said residents will need to go the Search and Follow Up department during work hours.

    They will also need to present the following: either their passports or travel documents from the embassy; a plane ticket or booking; and an ID card or copy of their entry visa.

    The ministry did not specify what would happen if an individual was unable to produce these documents.

    Currently, is illegal for expats to work in Qatar without a visa, or to hire someone without the appropriate government approvals.

    Kafala changes

    According to legal sources, this is the first time since 2004 that the government has declared an amnesty period for people living illegally in Qatar.

    Officials are various embassies said they expect thousands to avail of the new grace period, which expires on Dec. 1.

    That’s two weeks before amendments to the country’s kafala sponsorship law are due to take effect.

    Photo for illustrative purposes only.
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    The rules should make it easier for some expats to leave the country or change jobs.

    One of the big differences is that expats will apply to the government – rather than their sponsor – for an exit permit to leave the country.

    People who wish to switch jobs will also no longer need a no objection certificate from their employer, provided they have finished out their work contracts.

    Thoughts?

    Shabina S. Khatri
    Shabina S. Khatri is the editor of Doha News. She holds dual bachelor's degrees in Business Administration and Spanish from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University, has previously taught at NU-Q, and worked for the Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press.

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